Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Moon Landing

That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind...

With these famous words Neil Armstrong stepped out of the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle on this day in 1969 and became the first human being to set foot on another planet; he and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin then proceeded to spend about two-and-a-half hours on the moon - making notes, taking photographs, and drilling for core samples - while Command Module Pilot Michael Collins remained in orbit above them and the luminous surface of the Sea of Tranquility.

Following their planting of the flag the two astronauts spoke to President Richard Nixon via radio-telephone; for Nixon, though, the moment must have been bittersweet, since the dream of putting a man on the moon had been that of his keenest political rival John F. Kennedy, who from beyond the grave deprived Nixon of the ideal opportunity for self-aggrandizement during what was pretty much the only positive event of his presidency.

Of course, while a part of Nixon might have wished the Moon Landing hadn't taken place, there have always been those who vehemently denied it had, frequently using the most specious reasoning to do so; conspiracy theories are as common as nitrogen on this planet, and since a certain percentage of people seem to get off on being disagreeable, their crackpot notions can easily be discounted for this very reason*. While I am instinctually disinclined to believe anything the US Government says, I am also astute enough to know that the number of people required to keep a secret that big could not keep a secret that big under any circumstances. From this devastatingly logical line of reasoning is derived my belief that the event did indeed occur.

Nevertheless, I still don't believe that NASA has given the public the whole story regarding the Apollo Program; why, for instance, did the Moon missions stop so abruptly after just six visits, and why hasn't anyone gone back since 1972? Hm?

*In fact, agreeing with them could be considered counter-productive.

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